Review Summary: Beyonce’s ultimate goal is to tell you that Monogamy is just as empowering, just as sexy, and just as fun if you let it be.
2013 was a strange year in mainstream music. We had some of the most commercialized musicians create, sell, and advertise records in the most unorthodox ways as a way to counteract the consistencies in popular media. Justin Timerblake’s 20/20 Experience (1 and 2) featured nothing but “ballad-like” song structures that were forced to be edited for the radio. Kanye West released Yeezus - an extremely polarizing hip-hop record that’s more of a conglomeration of all of its influences rather than straight “hip-hop”. Jay-Z sold 1,000,000 copies of Magna Carta Holy Grail to Samsung. Samsung then freely distributed the MP3’s of the album to all of its user while Jay-Z’s album instantly became Platinum. What did Beyonce do? Practically nothing.
Beyonce is Pop in its very inherent definition. Her music moves, grooves, and shines. Her singing is eclectic, gorgeous, and fundamentally raw. Her dancing is fierce, graceful, and absolutely incredible. Her fame is undeniable and the money she makes is… Well.. Way too ***ing much. But considering the amount of success she’s had during and post-Destiny’s Child I would say it’s money well-earned.
Considering all of this in mind - Why did Beyonce practically drop this album out of thin air with NO WARNING if she’s had an incredible amount of success promoting her music in the past? It’s a question that can be answered in three ways:
Because *** the radio and its tendencies to overplay music to the point of ad nauseam.
Because *** the hype that comes with dropping singles.
Because *** it, she’s Beyonce and she’s perfectly capable of doing so without any repercussions.
Beyonce drops her eponymous “Visual Album” with the greatest ambition she’s ever had. Over an hour of music + 17 Music Videos. Damn. Just. Damn. Now, sorry, but, I won’t talk about the ”Visual” aspect of this album. Although it perfectly adds on to the idea, ambition, and image that Beyonce was doing her best to convey on this thing, this is ultimately an album review - meaning it’ll focus on the music more than anything else. And may I just say that the music on this record is the best music that Beyonce has ever released. All of her music from Dangerously in Love to 4 - although extremely well produced and great pop/R&B music in its own right - was almost exclusively just Pop and R&B. The greatest musicians aren’t just great singers, guitarists, dancers, drummers, etc. They transcend, compel, innovate, pioneer, mix, or construct new musical ideas. Up until this moment in Beyonce’s career - she has played it safe. [Self-Titled] is the exact opposite of safe. It’s a 14-track Pop, R&B, Hip-Hop,Trap, Electronica album empowering women, empowering marriage, and empowering sexuality in her classiest, yet, most uncensored form. In one minute she is tearing down the ideals of our world’s rampant social patriarchy by discussing and challenging the problems that women still experience whether it be self-image and slut-shaming and in the other minute she is unapologetic-ally singing/ (proudly [and at points even rapping]) about sex with her husband. Is it “TMI” of her to do so? Perhaps. But does it get her message of “It’s still extremely possible to be an independent, hard-working, yet sexual beast WITH a loved one by your side” across even further? Most definitely. Songs like “Drunk In Love”, “Blow”, “Mine”, “XO”, “Superpower”, “Rocket”, although can be very explicit, show’s Beyonce’s pride in her monogamous marriage (Also “Blue” except that’s definitely not a song about sex). While songs like “Pretty Hurts”, “Haunted”, and “Flawless” are strong and positive female empowerment. It’s unadulterated. It’s benevolent feminism. It’s fantastic.
It seems like in today’s day and age more and more people are hooking up and getting themselves into fun sexcapades with complete strangers for the sake of independence and utter thrill. While this is a perfectly valid lifestyle, Beyonce’s ultimate goal is to tell you that Monogamy is just as empowering, just as sexy, and just as fun if you let it be. Some may still have the idea that monogamy is boring and may tie a person down - but look at Beyonce. She seems to be doing swell.